BOSTON and Salem, Mass., May 19, 20022 – More than 5,000 dogs and cats from the American South have been relocated to adoptive homes in Massachusetts since the MSPCA-Angell and Northeast Animal Shelter (NEAS) announced an affiliation to do just that at the start of 2021.
Now, in a bid to solve the myriad pet overpopulation challenges on the ground in states like South Carolina, the MSPCA will launch a full-scale Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release (TNVR) program in conjunction with South Carolina’s Berkeley Animal Shelter in Moncks Corner and the Charleston Animal Center in Charleston.
The MSPCA—by way of a $150,000 grant from Best Friends Animal Society—has established a six-person team, led by Director of Adoption Centers and Programs Mike Keiley and Rebecca Fellman, DVM.
The team’s first trip to South Carolina, which took place on April 29, resulted in the spay/neuter of 61 cats. A separate MSPCA team will be heading back down in late May with a goal of sterilization up to 150 cats over a one-weekend period.
Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Release… Repeat!
The team will work elbow-to-elbow with peers at Berkeley Animal Shelter, fanning out across Berkeley County where there are estimated 32,000 cats living outside in colonies. The team aims to trap, neuter and release as many as 1,800 cats over the course of 12 months, and is planning nine more trips to the area in 2022 to continue sterilizing cats, which data show vastly reduces homeless cat populations.
In addition to spays and neuters, core vaccines (rabies, FVRCP), the team will administer flea and ear mite treatment, and “tip” one ear of all treated cats, a universal signal indicating that a cat has been spayed.
According to Keiley, this is both the surefire way for South Carolina to gain control of its pet population while reducing euthanasia inside of shelters.
“Our number-one goal with this program is to reduce the population of community cats who cannot live in adoptive homes and, as a result, multiply quickly in every corner [of the state],” he said.
“We feel confident that we can set up and operate the clinic and then successfully transition the operations back to Berkeley Animal Control, which we believe will stabilize the population and improve overall welfare of animals, with a more humane and successful small-scale management strategy,” he continued.
Heather McDowell, director of the Berkeley Animal Center, echoed Keiley’s comments. “We are confident this program will be highly effective in saving more cats and kittens across our County and helping with our shelter’s overcrowding issue,” she said.
Keiley is quick to remind that, not too long ago, Massachusetts struggled with its own runaway cat populations, which required the same level of expertise and applied discipline, over many years, to resolve.
“All of [the MSPCA-Angell] locations in Massachusetts have been, for many years, on the leading edge of cat sterilization in Massachusetts—with more than 33,000 cats sterilized in a roughly 10- year period, which prevented the births of hundreds of thousands of unwanted cats,” he said.
“We’re still actively involved in trap, neuter, vaccinate and release efforts in Massachusetts, namely with organizations such as Commonwealth Cats and the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society, who have been extremely successful in helping Massachusetts stabilize its animal populations.”
Defining the Future of Animal Protection
The news also marks a leap forward for the MSPCA’s commitment to improving the lives of animals no matter where they live, a strategy that goes beyond simply relocating them.
“Our primary motivation is to protect animals, ensure their veterinary needs are met and that they can find loving homes—whether that’s in Massachusetts, South Carolina or various other states in which we’ve been very active in the last year,” said Keiley.